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Department For Transport Staff Sacked For 'Misuse Of Social Media'

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Up to five workers at the Department for Transport have been sacked for misuse of social media, the Huffington Post UK can reveal.

About 25 incidents of misuse of social media were recorded between 2010 and 2012, a Freedom of Information request showed.

The department did not break the figures down into detailed yearly statistics, to avoid staff being personally identified.

But it said up to twenty staff were disciplined as a result, with five eventually losing their jobs.

The cases were evenly split between infractions involving Twitter and those related to Facebook.

The FOI showed up to five were disciplined in 2010, 10 in 2011 and up to five in 2012. In 2010 up to five incidents in total were recorded, with up to 10 in 2011 and 2012.

The figures follow similar FOIs which showed 11 civil servants at the department for work and pensions and two at the BBC were fired for misuse of social media.

News of the sackings comes shortly after prime minister David Cameron took the plunge and joined Twitter himself. Cameron now has more than 217,000 followers on the social networking site.

The Department for Transport press office runs an official Twitter feed, which occasionally retweets information about weather warnings and statements from the department to its 20,000 followers.

A separate FOI recently showed that the department has purchased 57 iPads for internal use. Another showed that 748 staff were issued Blackberry devices.

Steven George-Hilley, director of technology at the centre-right think tank Parliament Street, said of the figures:

"Government departments should be encouraging responsible use of social media, not oppressing it. Many employees rely on social media channels to communicate with their colleagues and employers, particularly during the snowy season when transport is often disrupted.

"If the government genuinely wishes to become digital by default then it must embrace rather than punish social media use in the workplace."

The Department for Transport told the Huffington Post:

"The Department has clear rules governing use of the social media, which we use as one means of getting information out to the public. Staff who do not comply with the rules may be in breach of the Civil Service Code and their terms and conditions of employment, leaving them liable to disciplinary action including dismissal."